FRIDAY MARKET CLOSE: Sainsbury’s bounce can’t lift Footsie

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Supermarkets remained in the spotlight as the sector fought back from Thursday’s sell-off despite another blow for Morrisons after it revealed employee payroll data was stolen and published on a website.

The UK’s fourth biggest supermarket chain confirmed the data theft, which includes bank account details and affects thousands of staff from all levels of the organisation, just a day after dismal annual results and fears of a price war sent shares plunging 12 per cent.

Its shares edged 1 per cent higher at 208p while rivals Sainsbury’s and Tesco were among the biggest blue chip risers, but the retail rally was not enough to boost the wider FTSE 100 Index - down 25.89 points at 6,527.89.

It ended a poor week for the London market amid ongoing worries over Ukraine and the health of China’s economy, with the top flight suffering its sixth straight session in the red.

Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC, said: “Sainsbury’s and Tesco bounced as some investors may have felt the babies were thrown out with the bath water.”

Sainsbury’s added 8.7p, or 3 per cent, to 313.6p, while Tesco also made up some recent losses, climbing 5p to 303.7p.

But Morrisons’ online delivery partner Ocado fell a further 4 per cent, down 18.9p to 483.6p and compounding a drop of almost 7 per cent in the previous session.

Elsewhere, BP was initially lifted by the US ending a ban on it winning federal government contracts in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, although shares later slipped 1.3p to 477.3p.

Pub group JD Wetherspoon eased 1p lower to 827.5p in the second tier, despite reporting a 3.2 per cent rise in half-year profits.